NEWS FROM AROUND THE REGION
with Madeleine McMullin
Time running out to claim free light bulbs
The government is giving away 10 free light bulbs to households that qualify. In order to claim your bulbs you must have an official tax number in France and have income under a certain level. 1 in 2 households in the country do qualify so the income bar is not very low. Go to www.mesampoulesgratuites.fr to fill in the form and claim your bulbs. There is a choice of 4 different types and you can decided how many you want of which sort to make up the ten. The offer ends in the next few days.
Perpignan man to get order of Merit
Aziz Sebhaoui will become a knight of the National Order of Merit (chevalier de l’ordre national du Mérite) on Saturday 22nd October. The owner of the Casa Cafe in the St Jacques area of Perpignan is being decorated for the work he has done in restoring a sense of pride and community to the district after the 2005 riots. The award will be presented by Josiane Chevalier, the ex-Prefect who spent quite a lot of time visiting St Jacques when in post.
INSEE points up real divide in new region
The real split in the new region is not between the Occitans and the Catalans but between the cities and the countryside. Growth in population is higher in the cities and along the more built up coast, with the Gers, the Ariège, the Tarn, Hautes Pyrénées and the Lozère the oldest and most stable departments population-wise. Unemployment however affects the city population as much as or more than it does the rural areas. The unemployment rates are highest in the Aude, Hérault and the P-O. The only thing shared by a large part of the region is low income levels. Less than 6 households in 10 are taxed in 12 out of 13 departments. The Aude, P-O and the Ariège have less than 55% of households taxed.
Mayor of Le Barcarès on trial
Alain Ferrand, the mayor of Le Barcarès is being tried for preventing freedom of access to public tenders and not treating candidates equally. Jean-Marie Pacifico, a town councillor is accused of gaining interest illegally. The case is about a tender for signalling in the town. The councillor was asked to take care of it by the mayor even though he runs a company which operates in the same field. The prosecutor has asked for a fine of €10,000 for the councillor and 3 months suspended sentence and a €15,000 fine for the mayor, as well as a suspension of his civil, civic and family rights for 2 to 3 years.
Plan B for RN116
The Prefect unveiled Plan B for the RN116. The 4 lane dual carriageway between Prades and Ille sur Têt that was being looked at has been abandoned, but the Marquixanes bypass is to go ahead. The dual carriageway would have cost €300 million and was too expensive to finance. The cost of the bypass in the new plan would be €30 million. The new road would be dual carriageway but with only one lane on each side, at least to begin with. The two alternative routes (north and south) will be presented to the public early in 2017 and if given the go ahead it should be open in 5 years.
16 Perpignan bars and late night shops fined
Police carried out an operation in the Perpignan area on Thursday 13th October and caught 16 different bars and late night shops breaking the law. The offences ranged from smoking in a public place, not respecting the laws for selling drinks, illegal work and selling tobacco illegally to selling alcohol to drunk people. Several cars were also fined and/or towed. The commissioner in charge said that operations of this sort took place regularly to ensure that the area stayed calm and laws were respected.
200 people meet Paris-Portbou night train
The night train from Paris to Portbou is threatened with the axe and will cease to run in mid December. A committee has been formed to try to save it and the supporters met the train on the 15th at 7.15am in Perpignan, treated the passengers in the sleeping cars to breakfast and asked them to sign a petition which already has 7000 signatures. Several other sleeper trains have already gone including the Strasbourg – Portbou and Nice -Portbou services. The region is negotiating to try to save the service from Paris.
New political party is formed in the P-O
500 people have joined the party “Oui au pays catalan” which was launched on Saturday 15th October. The party’s aim is to promote the Catalan identity in the area within the French legislative framework. Jean-Luc Pujol, the mayor of Fourques is very involved and summed up the reason for the new party “We saw an unprecedented number of people in the streets to fight against the choice of name for the region. Unfortunately it has been confirmed and will remain, so that fight is behind us. But we want to unite those that want local politics to be decided locally. Anything that affects culture, language, the economy and politics in the highest sense of the word should be included in that”. The ex-councillor did not stand for the last election but was in favour of the merger of the regions. He says that Montpellier had robbed the area and now we needed to work to ensure that anything that concerned the territory was decided by it.
No dengue or chikungunya cases spread by mosquito bites in P-O
Despite the spread of tiger mosquitos into the department there have been no reported cases of dengue, chikungunya or zika virus being spread by a mosquito as of yet. There have been 17 cases of the different diseases reported in the P-O and the authorities remain vigilant. The policy is to treat the person and their environment as soon as there is a suspicion that they might be infected, ridding the area of mosquitos to prevent secondary infection through mosquito bites.